The owners, under the impression the NFL Players Association is not bargaining in good faith, have filed an unfair labor practice change against the union. The charge, filed wit the National Labor Relations Board alleges the union is waiting for the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to expire in March, and refusing to negotiate until then. In short, a refusal to bargain is unlawful, and the owners are trying to go the litigation route first.
Does it pass the smell test, though? The reason for letting the CBA expire is simple: The NFLPA can de-certify and file a lawsuit to take this to the courts. It’s the lawsuit, and anti-trust allegation, that has the NFL owners worried. Should the union garner unanimous support for decertification, which the NFLPA has been vocally and publicly lobbying its players for, that lawsuit is the only step.
Could the NFLPA be refusing to bargaining? It’s possible, but not likely at all. The owners are holding the threat of a lockout over their head and the NFLPA appears to be trying to get this done at the bargaining table first, working to avoid litigation. If the two sides could come to an agreement, it avoids messy litigation and an antitrust suit that could see both sides come out losers in the end, with the NFL as a whole taking the biggest hit.
Instead, we’re looking at another PR war waged in the media. The owners are alleging a lack of cooperation, when it looks like the league itself is the one stomping its feet and refusing to work with the players. The owners are the ones that have walked out of meetings and cancelled future sessions while threatening a lockout. The labor charges seems not only misguided, but like a poor media tactic.
For more on the negotiations, check out our NFL lockout StoryStream.